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Stop reading this right now if you haven't seen Avengers: Infinity War. For real. We are about to get into MAJOR spoilers, so bail now before you go any further. You have been warned!
By the end of the latest Marvel movie, Avengers: Infinity War, Joe and Anthony Russo had eliminated half of the existing universe. Thanos (Josh Brolin) succeeded in obtaining all of the Infinity Stones, and with the snap of his fingers, he turns half of the universe to dust. In between the snap and his final teleportation, the Russos give Thanos a touching -- and somewhat confusing -- scene where he interacts with a very young Gamora, and his step-daughters asks the Titan what he had to sacrifice to win. He admits that it was everything. Now, Joe Russo is explaining that this scene exists because Gamora is in the Soul Stone. Russo recently said:
It's implied it's the Soul Stone. It's all orange around, then he's inside the soul stone with the amount of power that it took to snap his fingers -- he has this out of body experience with Thanos. When he goes inside the Soul Stone, he has this kind of conversation with the younger version of his Gamora.
Joe Russo was speaking with a group of students on Monday at Iowa City High School, and a student who reportedly attended the event provided a transcription of what was revealed on Reddit. There are photos to back up this event (the Iowa City Press Citizen also covered Joe Russo's appearance), so these quotes come with some credibility. When asked to confirm if this means that Gamora (Zoe Saldana) is IN the Soul Stone, Russo elaborated:
She in fact is, yes.... It was an attempt, an attempt on our part -- because we don't like two dimensional roles or three dimensional villains, every villain is a hero in their own story and as insane and psychotic and brutal and violent as Thanos is, he's a more complex villain if you go on a journey with him emotionally. He does care for things, and it is complicated for him to execute his plan, and it cost him something. He said at the end 'It cost him everything,' and that it was the only thing he loved which was Gamora. Which is why we put him back with her at the end. I just want to reiterate with the audience that he does feel true emotion, even though he is a monster.
One of the biggest questions on the lips of Avengers fans coming out of Infinity War was, "Are the dead going to stay dead?" Yes, Joe and Anthony Russo killed off Black Panther and Spider-Man, but those heroes are expected to have sequels. There's no WAY they could stay dead. But Gamora (Zoe Saldana) seemed like a real sacrifice. She was killed pre-snap, meaning -- we thought -- her death was permanent. But Joe Russo already appears to be laying the groundwork for the possibility that Gamora will return in Avengers 4, and probably fight alongside her fellow Guardians in the already-announced Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.